All in all, not a lot for Celtics owner to grouse about
One of the NBA’s most involved owners is closely watching his team’s recent struggles, realizing that, though veteran-laden, it is experiencing growing pains. There is a sense of impatience but a higher level of trust, since the Celtics are only two years removed from reaching the pinnacle of NBA success.
Wyc Grousbeck, the Celtics’ managing partner and governor, wears an uncomfortable smile as he talks about his club. The Celtics entered this much-anticipated season with talk of challenging the franchise record of 68 wins.
And that seemed approachable when they raced to an 8-1 record with easy victories over Charlotte, Chicago, and Utah. Two losses over the weekend have created uncertainty, but Grousbeck remains confident.
“I feel like 8-3 is OK out of 11, but 8-1 was better,’’ he said before last night’s 109-95 win over the Golden State Warriors. “I’m looking to the next 10 games and then 10 games after that and trying to take the long view, and I understand the losses, but it doesn’t make it any easier to take.’’
Grousbeck said he has the utmost confidence in how the roster was constructed. The organization acquired Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to join Paul Pierce and then added veteran pieces who were willing to accept less money for the opportunity to win a championship.
Even Pacers president Larry Bird lauded the organization for attracting Marquis Daniels for $1.99 million when he could have garnered perhaps double that with a lesser team.
Grousbeck is hoping that foundation is enough to make another run at basketball supremacy, and if that means signing a player with a controversial past - such as Rasheed Wallace or (last year) Stephon Marbury - he has faith that the organizational discipline is strong enough to influence them.
He didn’t want to discuss the exiled Allen Iverson or any other player, for that matter. But he has been impressed with players who rebelled in other places, then came here and followed the Celtic way.
“I think one of the great things about where we are right now,’’ he said, “is that we’ve got coaching and general manager and veteran leadership that enables us to look at guys who need to adjust to us when they come in.
“And it makes me really optimistic that players we add to this team will see that there’s a way that we do it here and fall in line. So it’s a credit to the vets that we can feel that. But we’re trying to do things right around here. And if we do it right, you win more than you lose, and that’s what we’ve done here.’’
Grousbeck spent his pregame time announcing another year of teaming with
These types of money-generating endeavors are almost essential for an NBA franchise to survive in this economy. The collective bargaining agreement expires following the 2010-11 season, and there is sure to be haggling between owners and players regarding maximum contracts, revenue sharing, and pensions.
From what information Grousbeck has deciphered, the league’s financial state is uneven. Commissioner David Stern has said that half or even as many as 20 of the 30 teams are in debt.
“Financially, not every team is very happy this year,’’ Grousbeck said. “The league is posting results that are better than I probably thought they would be, leaguewide, but on the other hand, there are still some trouble spots.
“It isn’t the happiest picture; it isn’t the best picture I can think of. It could be better. It definitely could be better leaguewide, and we’ve got some issues we need to address.’’
He is happy to report that the Celtics aren’t struggling, primarily because the organization is being financially responsible. There are teams looking to dump veterans with lengthy contracts on the Celtics - veterans such as Andres Nocioni, who could help this season. Team president Danny Ainge indicated that the Celtics will refrain from acquiring long-term contracts that may prove to be anchors on future salary caps.
What’s more, the Celtics have $21 million coming off the books after this season, allowing the club to perhaps re-sign Ray Allen and add another bargain free agent. Grousbeck is pleased with the way the roster is prepared for another run, and he says that with a quiet confidence - and a tinge of impatience.
“I love this team,’’ he said. “I love this roster. I like the character. I like the talent. I like the experience.
“I am really looking forward to seeing what happens this year. I can’t promise what’s going to happen but I’m really looking forward to it. We believe that this is potentially another championship season. We are doing everything we can to make that dream come true.’’
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.